Tales from the Mark Side

The Conservative Voice of Manatee County

By Mark Young

mark.young@manateeherald.com

Growing up, I always wanted to be a law enforcement officer, and it was my intention of doing so when I left the military.

I’m going to date myself again, but as a kid, I never missed shows like Adam 12, Starsky and Hutch and others. I was enthralled and intrigued with the whole law enforcement vibe.

I caught the journalism bug before I pulled the proverbial trigger on that decision, however, but in some small ways, journalism and law enforcement had enough similarities to satisfy me. So, up until my media industry turned traitor to the American people, I was satisfied in feeling like I was achieving both dreams at the same time.

It figures that both of my dream jobs meant a lifetime of living from paycheck to paycheck, so either one was a toss up in the end.

I’m not comparing myself to a law enforcement officer, but we share some common traits in investigative techniques, spreading a public safety message, and ensuring accountability at the highest levels for the citizens we serve.

That used to be the case, but not any more.

I’ve covered cops and courts for multiple communities across the country during the course of my career. I can honestly say that I haven’t lived anywhere where I haven’t been impressed with law enforcement.

However, I can say that I’ve lived in several places where I’ve been less than impressed with judges and the judicial system. That includes Manatee County.

But let’s be honest, few people pay attention to the election process of local judges. Most of the time, it’s just a single name and most of us simply check the retention box.

We don’t really know a lot about them. Unless you are someone who routinely goes through the courts for something you are doing, I’d wager the majority of voters don’t even know their names.

Judges rarely have to campaign. They don’t have to get in front of voters to tell you where they stand on crime. They don’t have to sit down with local journalists to answer the hard questions, assuming journalists are still capable of such things.

There is only one local judge up for retention this election cycle, so I’m in no way singling out this particular judge as being a problem.

It’s just an important part of the overall electoral process we should all be more diligent about in the future if we want to have a say on crime in our community.

Our sheriff’s office and our city police officers do an amazing job. We don’t suffer from the woke policies in democrat-controlled jurisdictions, but even in those cities, it’s not the law enforcement agencies that are the problem, for the most part.

It’s the woke leadership, district attorneys and bleeding heart judges that don’t put criminals away, give lenient sentences if any, and won’t even hold some of these animals on bail.

If you watch as much national news as I do, you see story after story of some career criminal killing some innocent person only to learn the same criminal has more than a dozen felony convictions and was already out on no bail awaiting the outcome of a half dozen new charges.

As a former journalist, I can tell you that for every story you see like this, there are dozens, if not hundreds of similar situations that don’t get the attention of national news. Even a lot of local journalists often dig deep enough on crime stories to tell their readers the full story.

But I do know this much. It’s happening here in Manatee County. I see it all the time when I read the police reports and when I used to have a lot more time, I’d do the deep dive to see how much time they served on previous convictions.

I can tell you that it’s not very much. When I see a police report about some local criminal pulling a gun on someone, only to read that he or she has 15 prior felony convictions, we in Manatee County are sitting on a ticking time bomb that will lead to the tragic loss of innocent life as long as these career criminals are allowed to continue seeing the light of day.

I’ll look at their adjudications and I’ll see criminals violate their probation with another felony conviction only to be put back on probation. I’ll see people commit violent crimes with prior convictions and serve a mere year and a half in prison.

I’m all for second chances. Not just for it, mind you, but believe in my heart and soul that there is a difference between making a bad choice and being a bad person.

But at some point, a judge and our judicial system has to say enough is enough.

Again, it’s important to reiterate that I’m not asking Manatee County voters to look at a single judge this election cycle. I’m equally as guilty as not knowing enough about which of our judges are a problem, and which are serving the best interests of law abiding Manatee County citizens.

I, for one, will begin to take a closer look as we head toward 2024. I want to know which of our judges are sending a six-time convicted violent felon to prison for a mere 13 months and which of our judges are applying common sense to their rulings.

I just don’t know right now, but I promise you one thing: I will.

And we all need to pay closer attention because public safety and crime should be a high priority. We’ve learned our lessons, both locally and certainly nationally, what happens when we get complacent.

It’s time to stop being complacent when it comes to local judges. This election cycle may not be the time for action, but we need to let our judges know that they too are on our radar going forward.

I’m only saying we want to know they are doing their jobs and fulfilling their oaths to ensure the safety of Manatee County is a priority to them.

Based on what I’ve seen over my career here and abroad, I’m not convinced that all judges have our safety as their top priority.

So let’s pay closer attention going forward. We spend a lot of time vetting our candidates. Judges should be no different.

With that said, let me vent a little about our local crime and some of the things I see the most. I’ve seen too many reports about convicted felons being arrested for being in possession of a firearm, and yes, in some cases these same felons have prior arrests for being in possession of a firearm.

How does that even happen? I always assumed Florida had a mandatory maximum where you go away for a long time on the first conviction. Is this a judge thing, too? I really need to know.

Secondly, for all you men out there who are choking and beating your girlfriends, wives or exes, just stop it already. Every week the arrest reports are chock full of you lowlifes taking out your own shortcomings as a man on females.

If you ever reach the point where you think you need to get physical with a woman, just walk away and go live your life elsewhere.

And don’t get me wrong here. There are a surprisingly large percentage of these arrests that involve women getting violent or making false claims about being assaulted because she knows it’s an easy way to get the guy arrested.

Again, our sheriff’s office does a phenomenal job sorting through the evidence at hand and making the right arrest. In the rare times, they may get it wrong with a lack of overall evidence, the truth almost always comes out.

And nothing is sadder to me than some poor woman calling law enforcement after getting a legitimate beating from some drunk scumbag and then gets mad at law enforcement when they actually arrest the guy. Then she refuses to press charges.

Get help. It’s out there. You don’t have to live your life with an abusive idiot, be it male or female.

The mainstream media doesn’t report domestic violence cases because it’s too easy to identify the victim in these cases. I get it, but I don’t agree with it.

I put men who beat women in the same category as child molestors and those who torture animals. I think there is a special place in hell for all of them.

That’s why when I worked in Nebraska, I did a lot of work both professionally and personally for the Rape and Domestic Violence Center in North Platte. I even used to put on a dress and high heels to walk in their annual “Walk in Her Shoes,” event to raise money for the center.

I never had a problem putting aside my pride or sense of masculinity if it meant doing something, anything, to help a woman escape an abusive man.

It’s just one of those things where it’s frustrating being a law abiding citizen. I’d like to drag most of those kind of men out into a field somewhere and show them what violence really is. So I have to do what I can do within the boundaries of the law.

If that meant putting on a dress once a year to show my support, then so be it.

So now I’m considering doing something that most media won’t do. I realize I need to be careful, and I don’t want to make the situation worse for any person being abused, but our community deserves to know who the men are who think they are tough guys for beating up a woman.

They should be outed.

This is something I struggle with internally due to the sensitive nature of domestic violence. But I also believe by not outing these violent men, I fail in my duty to do my part for public safety. It’s the same as being quiet, and if you are being quiet, then you are part of the problem, not the solution.

So I am considering doing what other media won’t do, but I’d like to hear from you. Should I out these men knowing that it may identify the victim? I’d use discretion for my part as best as I can, and I’d only consider the severe cases, but I’d like your input. What you think is important to me, so email me and let me know.

I look forward to hearing your opinion, and until then, stay vigilant my fellow Patriots. Stay aware and, as always, stay informed.

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By Mark Young

Mark Young is a U.S. Army veteran and a seasoned journalist of 25 years. His writing and reporting has garnered dozens of state press association and press club awards in Florida, Nebraska and Wyoming for investigative reporting, opinion writing, in-depth reporting and more.

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